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Online Giving: How can it impact your Generosity Initiatives?

April 10, 2012

Online giving is a hot topic in the church world.  I have posted several times on the topic.  I feel every church, no matter the size, should have an electronic giving strategy.  I decided to ask others who work with churches their opinion about electronic giving.  I will have a series of guest posts over the next few weeks on the subject.  I hope you enjoy.

The first is Tim Cool.  Tim is a Project Executive with Visioneering Studios Envision.Design.Build. and Founder of Cool Solutions Group. Since 1986, Tim has assisted more than 300 churches, throughout the United States, with their facility’s needs.   Tim has collaborated with churches in the areas of facility needs analysis, design coordination, construction management, development and facility management. 

Tim is also the author of the book, Successful Master Planning: More Than Pretty Pictures

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For those of you who know me, will know me best for my work with church facility development and management.  My specialization for the past ¼ century (dang…that just sounds OLD) has been associated with facility planning, design, development, construction and facility management. So what do I know about online giving? Good Question.

I do not know a lot about how online giving works from a technology perspective, other than I use it for all of my family’s giving at our church.  Our family also pays the lion-share of our bills and expenses on line.  So we are well versed and aware of the usage of online giving and believe it to be the trend for the future…like it or not.

While I am not an expert in ACH/Credit Card payment processing or other details of the electronic giving mechanisms, I can tell you that of the 300+ churches I have led through development projects, they all needed money….either cash or borrowed or a combination of the 2.  I have never worked with a church with unlimited funds which did not have to pay close attention to their giving trends, generosity initiatives as well as some form of capital campaign planning.

Over the past 3-5 years, the adoption and growing utilization of online giving has had a significant impact on the financial initiatives for the churches we have served, and so understanding these trends has become very critical.  Churches need to understand how online giving can stabilize their giving and in many cases actually increase it while also providing a tool that their congregation is most likely already utilizing for their financial affairs outside the church.

I am part of several online forums focused to provide information and community for church business administrator, XPastors and Operation Directors.  Over the past several months there have been several “chat” threads that have focused on this issue…here are some of the comments and take-a-ways:

  • Is it really worth it to push people to online giving? Yes, without a doubt. Studies continually show that online donations are more than in person donations. If you teach your people to automate their giving, then your giving will be more consistent. The overwhelming response was that all types of electronic giving improves the regularity of giving.
  • The average amount of online giving as a percentage of total giving was about 15-25%.  But, with many of the fastest growing churches in America, especially with a “below 40 year old demographic”, the percentage is much higher.  In fact, we have seen as high as over 60%.
  • While the overall amount of total giving was not dramatically impacted (usually less than a 5% increase in total giving being attributed to the online initiatives) the consistency of giving has drastically improved which provides a much more stable environment for planning, budgeting and implementing new ministry initiatives.
  • “Seasonal giving” has been much more stable with the implementation of online giving.  Even when people are on vacation, they continue to give via their online accounts.  This is a real help during the summer and other holiday seasons.

So, while I am not a financial genius, it would appear that implementing online giving in some form or fashion should be strongly considered by any church desiring to great more financial stability as well as providing a method of giving that most of their congregation is utilizing in there every day life.  Sounds like a WIN-WIN.

Tim can be reached at tcool@visioneeringstudios.com

He also blogs at

http://coolsonversationslive.com

http://visioneeringstudios.com

http://coolsolutionsgroup.com

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